News Archive

Backstage Whispers overheard by Richard Andrews

Last updated : 8th April 2005

Gregory Murphy's Off Broadway success The Countess, about the triangular relationship of Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his wife Effie, and Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais, has confirmed an opening date at the Criterion Theatre of 7th June. The cast includes Nick Moran, Damian O'Hare, Alison Pargeter, Jean Boht, Gerald Harper and Linda Thorson, and it is directed by the original New York producer and director Ludovica Villar-Hauser.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Abbey Theatre Dublin production of Dion Boucicault's The Shaughraun will transfer to the Albery Theatre on 8th June. The comic melodrama of larger than life 19th century characters involves star crossed lovers who are given a helping hand by the loveable rogue of the title (and his show stealing dog). The company is headed by Don Wycherley, Anita Reeves, Stephen Brennan and Frank Grimes, and directed by John McColgan.

This year's Garsington Park Opera season, one of the 'alternative Glyndebournes', running from 11th June to 9th July, continues the policy of combining favourite operas with discoveries of little known works. It comprises Rossini's Le Comte Ory, with Juanita Lascarro, Colin Lee, Victoria Simmonds and Miljenko Turk, directed by Rupert Goold; Richard Strauss's Arabella, with Orla Boylan, Peter Coleman-Wright, Jeffrey Lloyd-Roberts, Cora Burggraaf and Lorina Gore, directed by David Fielding; and Mozart's Le nozze di figaro, with D'Arcy Bleiker, Lucy Crowe, Sarah-Jane Davies, Doreen Curran and Fflur Wyn directed by John Cox. Further information can be found on the GPO web site via the link from Dance & Opera in the Links section of TheatreNet.

Brits On Broadway: Lynn Redgrave and Kate Burton star in the Roundabout Theatre Company production W Somerset Maugham's The Constant Wife, directed by Mark Brokaw, opening at the American Airlines Theatre on 27th May.

Shaun Prendergast's adaptation of John Wyndham's The Day Of The Triffids is receiving its premiere at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich until 30th April, directed by Gavin Robertson and Peter Rowe. It features Ben Porter and Kirsten Parker as the biologist and writer who are among the few to escape, when a meteor shower blinds most of the world's population, and an epic struggle for the survival of the human race ensues, as they are faced with flesh eating genetically modified plants.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Almeida Theatre production of Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, with Eve Best, Benedict Cumerbatch, Lisa Dillon, Sarah Flind, Iain Glen, Gillian Raine, Jamie Sives, adapted and directed by Richard Eyre, will transfer to the Duke of York's Theatre on 23rd May. Set in Norway near the turn of the 20th century, it is the story of a passionate woman, who feels bored and trapped in her mundane life with the dull university professor whom she has just married. It will be presented by Robert Fox.

This year's Entertainment Design Master Classes, to be held in New York in June, have expanded with a third segment. As always, a veritable who's who in Broadway lighting design, led by doyenne Jules Fisher, and including Peggy Eisenhauer, Beverly Emmons, Vivien Leone, Donald Holder, Brian MacDevitt, and Clifton Taylor, make up the faculty of the Lighting Master Classes, held from 20th to 22nd. Abe Jacob, the godfather of contemporary theatre sound design, leads the accompanying Broadway Sound Master Classes, from 22nd to 24th, with Jonathan Deans, Peter Fitzgerald, Peter Hylenski, Sam Berkow and Larry Estrin. Joining them on 23rd and 24th will be the Projection Master Class led by award winning projection designer Wendall K Harrington, with Paul Vershbow, Sage M Carter, Mary Racine and Peter Scharff. In addition to the keynote speakers, all programmes include a visit to a new Broadway musical, complete with a backstage tour, a discussion with the design team, and in depth analysis of the production, plus a manufacturers showcase. Full details can be found on the Entertainment Design web site via the link from The Emporium in the Links section of TheatreNet.

On The Casting Couch: Ben Chaplin Megan Dodds and Idris Elba will star in Neil LaBute's This Is How It Goes, which receives its European premiere at the Donmar Warehouse on 31st May.

The Grand Theatre in Blackpool is working on a project to establish a National Theatre of Variety, to be launched in 2006, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Variety Artists Federation. The plan is to establish a centre of excellence that will include training, a conference programme, a festival for the best in popular entertainment and an archive of the art form's evolution from its 19th century music hall roots. A joint initiative by the theatre and Equity (which incorporates the VAF) is seeking financial backing to enable the scheme to go ahead in the Grade II* listed theatre, designed by Frank Matcham, the world's premier theatre architect.

It's Official! As previously forecast here, the Theatre Royal Stratford East production of The Big Life, the ska musical, with book by Paul Sirett, music and lyrics by Paul Joseph, directed by Clint Dyer, will transfer to the Apollo Theatre, opening on 23rd May. The show relocates the story of Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost to a Caribbean community in 1950s London. The company includes Jason Pennycooke, Claudia Cadette, Chris Tummings, Geoff Aymer, Marcus Powell, Victor Romero Evans, Yaa, Amanda Horlock and Neil Reidman. It will be presented by Bill Kenwright.

The Rumour Machine says: that the Royal Shakespeare Company will stage a new musical version of Charles Dicken's Great Expectations, directed by Declan Donnellan next Christmas, and Ian McKellen will play King Lear, directed by Trevor Nunn in Stratford next year; that Kristin Scott Thomas will star in a West End production of Pirandello's As You Desire Me in the autumn; that the Old Vic Theatre's next season will include Kevin Spacey as Richard II, directed by Trevor Nunn, and Groupie, a new two hander by Arnold Wesker; and that the West Yorkshire playhouse production of The Postman Always Rings Twice, Andy Rattenbury's stage adaptation of James M Cain's novel, starring Charlotte Emerson, and directed by Lucy Bailey, will transfer to the West End in May, probably to the Playhouse Theatre. The Rumour Machine grinds on.